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COVID vaccine: Man, 96, is first to receive coronavirus jab in Belgium

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By Euronews
Jos Hermans gave the thumbs up to reporters after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the Sint Pieter care home in Puurs.
Jos Hermans gave the thumbs up to reporters after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the Sint Pieter care home in Puurs.   -   Copyright  Dirk Waem, Pool via AP
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A 96-year-old Flemish man from the region of Antwerp has become the first recipient of a coronavirus vaccine in Belgium.

Jos Hermans is the oldest resident of a nursing home in the town of Puurs, the village where the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is produced.

Authorities at the residential home said Hermans had been chosen for the first vaccine because he had always adhered strictly to the measures.

"He has remained corona-free throughout the period, he also made sure that his health was guaranteed," director Fred Rogier explained. "And he fully supports the principle of vaccination."

"I feel 30 years younger now," Hermans told local media shortly after his vaccination at 11 CET on Monday.

Dirk Waem/AP
A nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Belgium's Jos Hermans, 96 years old, at the Sint Pieter care home in Puurs, BelgiumDirk Waem/AP

"Everyone needs to be vaccinated, when everyone has been given a shot, we are freer again, and our children and grandchildren can come and visit."

Hermans will receive a second injection of the Pfizer vaccine in three weeks' time.

Also among the first to be vaccinated on Monday were Josepha Delmotte, a 102-year-old Walloon woman, and an unnamed elderly resident in Brussels.

Belgium received its first batch of 9,750 vaccines on Saturday and began vaccinating between 300 and 400 people on Monday.

Although the doses were manufactured at Pfizer's Belgian plant, the country will not have priority access over the other European Union member states.

But the country has considered modifying its COVID-19 vaccine strategy following the spread of a more contagious variant of the virus, which was detected in the United Kingdom.